Employment and Breastfeeding in New Jersey
Many mothers choose to or must return to work soon after their babies are born. With the availability of reliable breast pumps, it is possible to continue breastfeeding after returning to paid employment. In New Jersey, there is no law requiring employers to allow mothers to pump milk at work. However, many employers now have lactation programs in place in recognition of the fact that it helps the business’ “bottom line” to help mothers continue breastfeeding when they return to work.
Breastfeeding benefits to employers include:
- Babies have fewer illnesses, thus mothers take fewer sick days to care for sick infants;
- Fewer infant illnesses mean lower health care costs to the employer;
- Companies experience decreased employee turnover and higher employee morale because mothers are more likely to return to their previous employment when they know they can continue to breastfeed; and
- Appealing, family-friendly image for the business.
What you need to succeed at pumping breast milk at work:
- A reliable pump
- A private place to pump
- Break time during which to pump
- A place to store your milk (refrigerator, insulated carrier with cold packs, etc.)
If your company does not have a lactation program in place:
If you work in your own private office and are permitted break time and lunch periods, and already have a pump, you may be able to express milk in your own office. If you don’t have a private place to pump and/or break time, approach your employer or its human resources department about creating a plan that will allow you to express milk for your baby during your workday. Be positive and flexible about working toward a solution that will meet the needs of both you and the employer. It is helpful to share information with your employer about the ways a lactation program will benefit the employer. See resources below under “For employers”.
Lactation resources for breastfeeding families:
New Jersey Family Leave Insurance Program
Following the birth of an infant, many New Jersey workers (both fathers and mothers) are eligible to obtain up to six weeks of paid family leave, in addition to disability leave already provided by their employer. This leave can provide wonderful additional time for bonding with baby and getting breastfeeding off to a great start.
Working and breastfeeding
Articles from La Leche League International on working and breastfeeding.
New Jersey WIC Program
The NJ WIC program can provide breastfeeding assistance and support to low-income mothers who return to work in addition to providing healthy foods.
Working and Breastfeeding in Spanish
Spanish language tips from the Texas WIC program.
For employers: why lactation programs are important
Supporting breastfeeding moms in the workplace helps the company’s “bottom line”. Here’s the proof:
Cohen, Mrtek & Mrtek study (1995)
Study finds breastfeeding moms have one-third as much maternal absenteeism (one-day absences) to care for sick children in their first year of life as compared to formula feeding moms.
In the first year of life, after adjusting for confounders, there were 2033 excess office visits, 212 excess days of hospitalization, and 609 excess prescriptions for these three illnesses per 1000 never-breastfed infants compared with 1000 infants exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months. These additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.
Employers’ toolkits and assistance
Business Case for Breastfeeding
Extensive package of resources, information, assistance and tools for an employer to establish a lactation program.
Workplace Breastfeeding Support
Information and assistance from the US Breastfeeding Committee.
Investing in Maternal and Child Health: An Employer’s Toolkit
Assistance form the national Business Group on Health
Lactation Support Program
Toolkit from the US Centers for Disease Control.